This article attacked my mind whilst I was dreaming so I thought I’d put the words down as soon as I woke up. Without meaning to sound big-headed as that isn’t my intention, I’ve been pretty popular in this review game but I’ve learnt a few things the hard way. There’s no A-B-C way to become popular in this scene but I hope what I write here can help at least a few people.
It sounds obvious but it really does shine when someone is emotional and enthusiastic about what they write. If it comes across as a chore to write then it’s most often a chore to read.
Goodreads is amazing and if you want to be successful it’s a great way to get yourself known. I’ve given people advice on how to be popular on Goodreads before but as a reviewer, like and comment on people’s posts who like the same sort of books as you. They’ll return the favour. If someone has 5,000 friends and 15,000 followers then every time they write on your post all their followers see it. Everyone is incredibly friendly on Goodreads. Nobody is too popular to want to know you (apart from perhaps Emily May, but she’s a superstar) – I digress. When popular reviewers read a book and update their status authors love it and notice. Be active. I read a self-published book and 500+ people added it to the to-be-read list. 🙂 – If authors notice you are influential you’ll get their next books first.
Choose your direction.
There are two ways to be successful in this reviewing game. One is easier. The other is probably more enriching. You can either join an already popular site like Fantasy Book Review, Booknest, Fantasy Literature, Fantasy Book Critic, Grimdark Magazine etc… or start your own site like The Tattooed Book Geek or Meltotheeny. Both are exquisite ways but you’re more likely to quoted on book covers if you have a known name behind you. I’m pals with Drew and Mel at both the above sites and I know Drew has been quoted in books a few times but that route is harder. But at the same time, that route seems more personal and alive. Less robotic.
NetGalley is an absolute blessing. If you have a Kindle and you’re half popular you get Mobi/Kindle versions of books to read before anyone else. Do a review of what will be a popular book early and people will notice. You’ll get cool points as they’ll simply think that this person must be great to get this book that early. I reviewed Blackwing, Age of Assassins, Priest of Lies, Red Sister close to first from NetGalley. Author’s notice and appreciate. Publishers notice too. After a few good reviews publishers will auto-approve you so you can pick and choose all their books as you wish.
Use a pseudonym
This is the biggest mistake I made. Keep your real-life and your review life separate. When you become popular and people know your name then you will be attacked. It’s not pretty and made me suicidal. By rival reviewers or author’s who are pissed you haven’t reviewed their books yet. That’s all I’ll say about that but if you have a sexy individual name like I do, change it for your reviews. Google my name. You’ll see what I mean.
Be careful. I now only talk to about 5 people from the book scene on social media as I know I can trust them. It’s fun to talk to your heroes, to begin with. My advice is don’t. When you get popular in the scene then deal with the publishers directly. Do it the business way with the publishers as the broker in the arrangement. On groups such as Fantasy-Faction and Grimdark Reader’s and Writer’s post interesting comments, people will notice you but when it gets aggressive or sour, leave the conversation.
Learn who’s who in the field
In the Fantasy Book scene, there are about 10-20 very influential reviewers everyone seems to trust. If you are going to make a name in the said scene you need to know your peers and analyse why they are successful. Read their reviews, analyse why they are reading those books in that order. It’s a science in a way. They get on book covers because of what and when they read. I’ll just throw a few names down, some of the best are Petrik (Novel Notions) Petros (Booknest) Emma, Adam, Sean (Fantasy Book Review) Mihir (Fantasy Book Critic)… the list does go on but my hands hurt from typing. If you are starting in the reviewing game any one of the above would be happy to give you advice or help. We all started at the same level. I’m also friends with all of them. If you write for a site and are pals with the others then they’ll share your reviews. Simple marketing but useful.
Conventions/ Book Launches
These are fun but be careful. Everyone says “yeah, let’s get mashed and pissed and do silly shit.” Don’t. The whole internet will know about it and it’s not pretty. It’s a nasty pretense. Personally, if you go to one of these then don’t drink. I’ll keep this one simple and short.
Be careful with self-pub authors
I’m not using this section to put anyone off reading self-published work. Dyrk Ashton, Rob J. Hayes and Phil Tucker are some of my absolute favourites. Josiah Bancroft, James Islington and Evan Winter started self-published. There are three levels of self-published authors that I’ve seen. The elite, as the above mentioned, are. Including ML Spencer, CT Phipps, JA Andrews etc… The low, which isn’t intended to be disrespectful but new to the scene and still finding their feet… and the middle. The middle are the ones I have a problem with. Authors who badger you every 3 days saying why haven’t you reviewed my book yet and if you respond they tell everyone you’re harassing them. Ignore the middle. The rest are fine. Beware the middle lol.
Have a personality
In your reviews at least. Having an opinion on social media or the internet at the moment is a recipe for disaster. Even if you’re right. When it comes to the review, though, have style. Something unique. I type how I think and I like the way it flows. Not saying that that’s for everyone but create something that people will think, “yeah, that’s one of Sarah’s reviews!” have a unique selling point and you’ll do fine. 🙂 Don’t repeat the same words in the same paragraph (oops, just did) is one of my main issues. Reviews look cleaner if you use different words. This is all just my view and I hope some of it helps. 🙂
Cheerio from me, gang. I may add more later. 🙂
V – I like the fact there is a random V here.